By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The Kisumu County, Kenya government is reporting a suspected anthrax outbreak that has sickened a half dozen and killed one, according to a Citizen TV report.

Image/Robert Herriman

We have cases of suspected anthrax in the county. Two people were admitted to hospital Thursday and one has since died,” Dr Jonathan Billis, who is the Health officer in Kisumu Central Sub-County, said.

A family reportedly slaughtered a sick cow and shared the meat with their neighbors leading to the death while he was receiving treatment.

According to Dr Joseph Mugachia, a veterinary doctor, animals infected with anthrax normally die suddenly without showing any signs.

“Never open the carcass of a dead animal or slaughter and eat sickly animals.

“Second, never eat meat that has not been inspected by a qualified inspector and always report cases of sick and dead animals to your animal health service provider,” Dr Mugachia advised.

Anthrax is a bacterial pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Some of the more common herbivores are cattle, sheep,goats, horses, camels and deer. Anthrax is a very serious disease of livestock because it can potentially cause the rapid loss of a large number of animals in a very short time. Affected animals are often found dead with no illness detected.

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It infects humans primarily through occupational or incidental exposure with infected animals of their skins.

Bacillus anthracis bacteria using Gram-stain technique
Anthrax bacterium/CDC

When conditions become favorable, the spores germinate into colonies of bacteria. An example would be a grazing cow ingests spores that in the cow, germinate, grow spread and eventually kill the animal. Anthrax is caused by the bacteriumBacillus anthracis. This spore forming bacteria can survive in the environment for years because of its ability to resist heat, cold, drying, etc.  This is usually the infectious stage of anthrax.

The bacteria will form spores in the carcass and then return to the soil to infect other animals. The vegetative form is rarely implicated in transmission.  Strict enforcement of quarantines and proper burning and burying of carcasses from livestock suspected to have died from anthrax is important to prevent further soil contamination with the bacterial spores.

There are no reports of person-to-person transmission of anthrax. People get anthrax by handling contaminated animal or animal products, consuming undercooked meat of infected animals and more recently, intentional release of spores.

There are three types of human anthrax with differing degrees of seriousness: cutaneousgastrointestinal and inhalation.